Enhancing Spinal Health
The back is a very different and complex structure, involving a flexible column with complex muscle and ligamentous support. The spine contains the spinal cord and lateral nerve roots, and musculature intimately involved in several other functions, including breathing mechanics and nervous system. Many of the traditional approaches for training other joints in the body are not appropriate for the back—either they do not produce the desired result or they create new injuries.
- Posture, posture, posture!!! Standing, walking, sitting and lying down (supine). This is the most important form of exercise. You are strengthening your body just by standing, walking, sitting in the correct alignment. It takes muscular energy to hold yourself upright. When you walk look at the horizon and lead with your heart. This will keep your head from dropping and your shoulders from slouching. When you sit or drive in your car, maintain inner core activation of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as much as possible. Keep checking in and re-activate them each time. When you notice your shoulders have become your earrings, take deep breathe and release them down your back, draw your head back in space a bit too- most likely it has jolted forward.
- Learn neutral position (neutral spine). Constant vigilance and awareness of good posture increases core muscular strength and endurance and reduces stress to joints and muscles.
- Activate pelvic floor muscles and transverses abdominis. Zip it up!!! But don’t hold your breath!
- Back care must be done daily, yes daily to be effective!
- No pain, no gain philosophy does not apply to back strength.
- Recommended: low impact cardio along with specific back exercises
- However, there is not set of exercises for all individuals; appropriate exercise must be individualized. Some need more stability and some need more mobility.
- In general we are weak in our back and tight in our front body. Usually but not always there tends to be weakness in abdominals, glutes and hips and tightness in hamstrings and hip flexors. Strengthen the back and open the front.
- Be aware in the morning you are the tallest, your disks are the most hydrated, so go easy on full range spinal motion.
- With back injuries, extended warm-ups and cool down stretching are recommended
- Wear and tear of the spine is not only from intense and incorrect exercise but sedentary lifestyle with poor posture.
- Lifestyles: Sitting is the new smoking! One hour of exercise negates 8 hours of sitting! Text neck!!! The misalignment of your cervical spine can cause imbalances and issues down your entire spine to your feet. Do restorative fish yoga pose daily.
- To maintain healthy spine you must have core stability and muscular strength and mobility through flexion, extension and lateral movement of the spine, along with proper hydration.
- Patience and persistence are key to healing. Expect 6 months or longer of consistent exercise to get results.
In today’s modern 21st century society, “text neck” is becoming a real thing. Most of the time our neck is in “flexion” which means it’s dropping down. This can happen from being on the computer, your cell phone, reading or walking with your head looking down. This may not seem like a big deal but it becomes a real “pain in the neck” if the neck stays in flexion and there is no counter stretch, “extension.” Eventually what can happen is a reverse curve of the cervical spine, like I have, which is becoming more common. The neck needs full range of motion to be healthy.
The cervical spine is the most mobile part of the spine, yet it’s usually weak or not in correct alignment with the rest of the spine. Think about it…at the top of the neck “stem” is your head that must be held in correct alignment all day. An average head weighs 10-11 pounds. If you have a big brain like me, then your head weighs even more! So all day long you are basically balancing a bowling ball at the top of your neck. Strengthening the neck muscles without causing more tightness is important, as well as keeping the full range of motion for the ole noggin.
My neck has been my “achilles heel.” I have suffered tremendously from neck pain and not being able to move it. If you hold tension in your neck and shoulders, like I do, this will also create neck pain.
Not to worry! If I can heal my neck, you can too!
Below are some simple exercises you can do to increase range of motion and strength in your neck. There are other factors that contribute to neck pain; for example, if you have tight shoulders or thoracic spine, this can also contribute to your neck aches. Therefore, I recommend a private session with me to start, or someone who is experienced and knowledgeable.
Restorative Fish Pose
Restorative Fish Pose on blocks, great for counter acting “hunch asana.” Opens the chest and shoulders, relieves the neck.
Yoga poses and stretches to help you open tight shoulders.
Save your neck!
Lower Back Care
I am a back injury prevention specialist and also have experienced my own debilitating spine—lower and upper—issues at 33 years old. I healed myself through yoga, conscious breathing, focused affirmations, meditation, and learning how to live a more balanced lifestyle, letting go of stress and unnecessary worry. It wasn’t easy, but it was either that or continue to suffer in pain and die early—that’s how bad of shape I was in.
These basic exercises and yoga poses helped me tremendously. There are many more that I recommend, but to keep it simple these are the most effective to start. I would recommend a private session with me or someone who can watch you go through the poses and exercises to make sure you are doing them correctly. Details, form and alignment matter.
Happy Healing! Any questions, please feel free to contact me. Namaste.
Videos for Back Care
For lower back and hip flexors
Save your spine with this yoga pose. Cat/Dog with Karma 🙂
Thread the Needle
Hips and happy baby pose.
Lower back and spinal massage
Not all exercises are suitable for everyone, and making use of this or any other exercise program may result in injury. If you believe that you may suffer from a physical or emotional impairment, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a licensed health care professional before embarking on this or any other exercise program.
The information provided on this website, through workshops and other materials is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice or direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.
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